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“It’s the Strength of Your Mind”

Sometimes you hear the right thing at the right time. Like this inspiring message from my spinning instructor last night…

Sometimes you just hear the right thing at the right time.

Last night I was in the spin studio at my gym, near the end of an intense cycling class led by Rachel, one of my favorite instructors. She was having us do hill repeats. Two and a half minutes uphill at a relatively fast pace, harder and faster the next minute, then sprint and go breathless the final minute. Recover on the downhill. Repeat.

We’d just hit the last of those sprints. Rachel urged us on, chanting with the beat of the music to help us stay on cadence, “Push, push, push.” I’m strong and I’ve got thick legs built for climbing. But I must have gone too hard on the first part of that hill because there I was on my bike, quads and hams screaming, struggling to keep the pedals moving. Breathless? About to pass out was more like it.

That’s when Rachel called out over the music, “I know it hurts. Don’t give up. It’s not the strength of your legs, it’s the strength of your mind!”

Just the inspiration I needed. My legs might be about to give out, but my attitude wasn’t. I focused on the next revolution of the pedals. Make a smooth full circle. Push on the downstroke. Scrape my foot back. Pull up on the pedal. Push down again.

Next thing I knew, Rachel was saying, “Fifteen seconds to the finish line. Can you crank up the intensity and go even harder?”

Guess what? I could. And I did.

P.S. If you’re in New York City and want a fitness instructor/personal trainer who will challenge you to get stronger than you think is possible, look up Rachel Buschert Vaziralli. Her website is Check out her before and after shots for inspiration. She’ll tell you her transformation was as much mental as physical.

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